I. Introduction to the Hunter & Farmer Sales Arpproach

A. The Significance of Hunting and Farming Customers in a Competitive Market

In today’s highly competitive market, businesses and sales professionals must develop effective strategies to maximise sales and ensure sustainable growth. One approach to achieve this is by understanding and leveraging the concepts of hunting and farming customers. These strategies enable companies to acquire new clients, and nurture and expand existing relationships, creating a solid foundation for long-term success.

Hunting customers involves identifying and targeting potential clients with unmet needs and offering tailored solutions to address those needs. This approach is essential for companies looking to grow and expand their customer base, especially in fiercely competitive industries. For example, a software company specialising in providing bespoke solutions for small businesses might have a sales team dedicated to identifying new leads, offering customised software packages and securing new contracts.

On the other hand, farming customers focus on nurturing existing relationships and identifying opportunities to upsell or cross-sell products and services to current clients. This strategy is crucial for maintaining customer satisfaction, encouraging loyalty, and increasing revenue from long-standing clients. For instance, a telecommunications provider might have a dedicated account management team responsible for maintaining relationships with corporate clients, ensuring their needs are met, and offering additional services as the client’s business expands.

B. Importance of Understanding the Difference Between Hunting and Farming Customers

Differences between Hunter and Farmer

Understanding the distinction between hunting and farming customers is vital for businesses and sales professionals to maximise their potential in the market. By acknowledging the different objectives, techniques, and mindsets required for each approach, companies can allocate resources effectively and ensure that sales and customer success teams work together towards shared goals.

For sales professionals, recognising the difference between hunting and farming customers can help them refine their skills and become more effective. For example, a salesperson skilled at hunting might excel at cold calling, prospecting, and closing deals, while one adept at farming would be better suited to maintaining long-term relationships, upselling, and cross-selling.

In the context of a real estate agency, hunting customers might involve generating leads for potential homebuyers or sellers, showcasing properties, and closing transactions. In contrast, farming customers could involve maintaining relationships with existing clients, offering property management services, or identifying opportunities for clients to purchase additional properties as investments.

Ultimately, businesses and sales professionals can develop tailored strategies that drive sustainable growth and success in a competitive market by understanding the nuances between hunting and farming customers.

Hunter vs Farmer

Sales PersonaDescriptionPositivesNegatives
HunterActively seeks new opportunities, prospects, and accounts. They are independent and enjoy moving from one deal to the next.- Excellent at identifying and attracting new leads
- Quick to build rapport with prospects
- Skilled at navigating networking events and social media
- May struggle with cultivating long-term relationships
- May not be as effective in customer retention
FarmerFocuses on cultivating existing relationships and seeking opportunities within existing accounts. They prioritise long-term rapport with their accounts.- Strong customer retention and loyalty
- Expert at nurturing long-lasting relationships
- Drives revenue from existing clients
- May not excel at acquiring new clients
- May not be well-suited for highly competitive markets
TrapperHas a deep understanding of target audience and buyer personas. Utilises inbound marketing to communicate the value of offerings in channels prospects are already engaged with.- Effective in generating social proof
- Closing-focused
- Can adapt to various sales scenarios
- May not be as skilled as hunters in prospecting new leads
- May need to balance hunting and farming skills to maximise success

II. The Basics of Hunting and Farming Customers

A. Definition of Hunting and Farming Customers

  1. Hunting: The Sales Team’s Mission To Identify Potential Customers and Close Deals

Hunting customers refers to the process of actively pursuing new business opportunities with the aim of converting potential clients into paying customers. This approach often requires sales professionals to engage in proactive measures such as cold calling, attending networking events, and utilising digital marketing strategies to generate leads. For instance, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) company may employ a team of ‘hunters’ to reach out to potential customers, demonstrate their platform’s value, and secure new contracts.

A real-world example of hunting customers can be found in the pharmaceutical sales industry. Representatives from pharmaceutical companies engage with healthcare professionals, such as doctors and pharmacists, to introduce new medications and persuade them to prescribe them. This requires the sales representative to possess excellent communication skills, in-depth product knowledge, and a persuasive demeanour.

  1. Farming: The success team’s mission is to retain existing customers and expand their accounts

On the other hand, farming customers is a strategy focused on nurturing and growing existing customer relationships. This involves providing ongoing support, addressing customer concerns, and identifying opportunities for upselling or cross-selling. Account managers and customer success professionals are typically responsible for ‘farming’ customers, ensuring that their clients’ needs are met and that they continue to derive value from their purchased products or services.

For example, a company providing managed IT services might assign a customer success manager to each client, tasked with monitoring the client’s IT infrastructure, addressing any technical issues, and offering additional services or upgrades when appropriate. This approach not only helps to retain customers but also maximises the revenue potential of each account.

B. The Relationship Between Sales and Success Teams

Sales and Success Team relationship - Hunter vs Farmer

  1. Sales Team Focuses on New Customer Acquisition

The primary objective of a sales team is to generate new business, bringing new revenue into the company. Sales professionals are often given specific targets for new customer acquisition, and their performance is typically measured by the number of deals closed and the revenue generated. To succeed in this role, sales professionals must possess strong negotiation skills, build rapport with potential clients, and thoroughly understand the products or services they are selling.

For instance, in the automobile industry, a salesperson at a car dealership is responsible for attracting potential buyers, presenting the benefits of various models, and ultimately persuading customers to make a purchase. This often involves a combination of in-person interactions, phone calls, and digital marketing efforts.

  1. Success Team Focuses on Customer Retention and Expansion

The primary goal of a success team is to ensure customer satisfaction, maintain long-term relationships, and identify opportunities to grow existing accounts. In addition, these professionals often work closely with clients to understand their needs, provide tailored support, and offer additional products or services that complement their purchases. Key performance indicators for customer success teams include customer retention rates, upselling or cross-selling revenue, and customer satisfaction scores.

For example, a telecommunications company may have a team of account managers dedicated to managing relationships with corporate clients. These account managers would meet clients’ communication needs, address service-related issues, and offer new products or services as the clients’ businesses grow.

By understanding the distinct roles and objectives of hunting and farming customers, businesses can ensure that their sales and success teams work harmoniously, maximising overall revenue and fostering long-term customer relationships.

III. Hunting Customers: The Sales Team’s Role

A. Sales Rep’s Job in Identifying Prospects and Closing Deals

The primary responsibility of a sales representative is to identify prospective customers and convert them into paying clients. This involves conducting market research to understand the target audience, using various lead generation strategies to identify potential customers, and employing various techniques to persuade prospects to purchase. Sales reps must be adept at presenting their products or services in a compelling manner and addressing any objections or concerns raised by potential clients.

A real-world example can be seen in the commercial real estate sector, where sales representatives are responsible for identifying potential tenants, showcasing available properties, and negotiating lease terms to close deals. These professionals must understand the market, build relationships with potential clients, and exhibit excellent communication and negotiation skills.

B. Challenges Faced by the Sales Team

Sales Team Challenges

  1. Gaining the Attention of Potential Customers

In today’s competitive market, sales professionals face the challenge of capturing the attention of potential customers who are constantly bombarded with marketing messages. They must find innovative ways to stand out from the competition and pique prospects’ interest. For example, a tech start-up may use targeted social media advertising or collaborate with industry influencers to reach their intended audience.

  1. Bypassing Gatekeepers

Another challenge sales reps face is getting past gatekeepers, such as receptionists or personal assistants, who are tasked with screening calls and managing their bosses’ schedules. Sales professionals must develop strategies to engage with these gatekeepers and persuade them to grant access to decision-makers. This may involve building rapport, demonstrating genuine interest in the gatekeeper’s concerns, and providing valuable information that can be passed on to the decision-maker.

  1. Establishing a Relationship With Potential Buyers

Sales representatives often need to build relationships with potential clients before they can effectively pitch their products or services. This can be time-consuming and requires patience and persistence. Sales reps may attend industry events, join networking groups, or offer valuable content through webinars and blog posts to connect with potential customers and foster relationships.

  1. Timing and Unforeseen Obstacles

Even the most skilled sales professionals can encounter challenges due to poor timing or unforeseen obstacles. For example, a sales rep might spend months nurturing a relationship with a potential client, only to have the deal fall through due to budget cuts or a change in the client’s leadership. To overcome these challenges, sales professionals must remain adaptable and resilient, continuously learning from their experiences and refining their strategies.

By understanding the role of hunting customers and the challenges faced by sales teams, businesses can develop effective strategies to maximise sales and success in a competitive market. Sales professionals must continually hone their skills and adapt their approach to overcome obstacles and achieve their goals.

IV. Farming Customers: The Success Team’s Role

A. Success Team’s Role in Customer Onboarding and Account Management

The success team is vital in ensuring customer satisfaction and loyalty by facilitating the onboarding process and managing accounts effectively. Their responsibilities include providing product training, addressing customer queries, troubleshooting issues, and offering proactive support. By developing strong relationships with customers and understanding their needs, the success team can identify opportunities for upselling and cross-selling, ultimately increasing the lifetime value of each customer.

A real-world example of the success team’s role can be seen in the software as a service (SaaS) industry. When a new client signs up for a subscription, the success team helps them set up their account, provides training on using the platform effectively, and offers ongoing support to ensure the client continues to derive value from the service.

B. Challenges Faced by the Success Team

Success Team Challenges

  1. Demonstrating the Value of Advanced Features

The success team’s challenge is convincing customers to adopt advanced features or upgrade to higher-tier plans. They must effectively demonstrate how these features can address specific pain points or improve the customer’s experience with the product. For example, a success team member working for a project management software company might showcase how using the premium analytics feature can provide deeper insights into a customer’s project performance, helping them make data-driven decisions and improve overall efficiency.

  1. Balancing Risks of Losing Recurring Income and Pursuing Additional Revenue

The success team must also balance the risks of losing recurring income from existing customers with the pursuit of additional revenue through upselling and cross-selling. This requires them to be sensitive to customer needs and ensure that they only recommend upgrades or additional products when they genuinely believe the customer will benefit from them. For instance, an account manager at a digital marketing agency should carefully assess a client’s performance and needs before recommending additional services, such as SEO or social media management. By doing so, they can maintain trust with the client and reduce the likelihood of jeopardising the existing relationship.

By understanding the role of farming customers and the challenges faced by success teams, businesses and sales professionals can develop strategies to maximise customer retention and expansion, ultimately driving growth and success in a competitive market. Success team members must be skilled in building relationships, identifying opportunities for growth, and addressing challenges to maintain customer satisfaction and loyalty.

V. The Virtuous Cycle of Growth: Sales and Success Teams Working Together

A. Importance of Collaboration Between Sales and Success Teams

To maximise sales and success in a competitive market, sales and success teams must work together closely. Collaboration between these teams allows them to align their goals and strategies, ensuring a seamless customer journey from acquisition to retention and expansion. By combining their efforts, sales and success teams can create a virtuous cycle of growth that benefits both the business and its customers.

B. Sales Team Targeting Good-Fit Customers To Ensure a Positive Customer Experience

To create a sustainable growth cycle, the sales team should target good-fit customers likely to derive value from the product or service. Doing so sets the stage for a positive customer experience, which the success team can build upon. For example, a sales representative for an e-commerce platform might prioritise targeting small and medium-sized businesses that would most benefit from their platform’s features, ensuring a higher likelihood of long-term satisfaction and retention.

C. Success Team Collaborating With Sales Team To Identify Ideal Customers

The success team can also contribute to the virtuous growth cycle by collaborating with the sales team to identify and target ideal customers. By sharing insights from their interactions with existing customers, the success team can help the sales team refine their targeting strategies and better understand the needs of their prospects. For instance, a customer success manager at a marketing automation software company might provide feedback to the sales team on the types of businesses that have found the most success with their product, helping to inform the sales team’s prospecting efforts.

D. Successful Customers As Brand Advocates and Lead Generators

When sales and success teams work together effectively, they can turn satisfied customers into brand advocates who generate leads and referrals. Customers who have a positive experience with a product or service are more likely to recommend it to others, which in turn fuels the growth of the business. A real-world example of this can be seen in the telecommunications industry. A mobile network provider that offers exceptional customer service and reliable network coverage will likely see an increase in word-of-mouth referrals, leading to new customers and contributing to the company’s overall growth.

By fostering collaboration between sales and success teams and creating a virtuous growth cycle, businesses can maximise their sales and success in a competitive market. This approach ensures that customers’ needs are met at every stage of the customer journey, driving long-term satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy.


VI. Actionable Advice for Sales Careers

Advice for Sales Team

A. Sales Professionals Should Focus on Targeting and Nurturing Good-Fit Customers

For sales professionals looking to excel in their careers, it’s crucial to identify and nurture good-fit customers. This means understanding the target market and ideal customer profile and honing in on your product or service’s unique value proposition. By doing so, you’ll not only increase the likelihood of closing deals but also set the stage for long-term customer success. For example, a software salesperson should concentrate on selling to businesses that can genuinely benefit from the features of their software, ensuring a higher rate of customer satisfaction and retention.

B. Emphasise the Importance of Teamwork and Collaboration Between Sales and Success Teams

Sales professionals should recognise the value of teamwork and collaboration with their counterparts in customer success teams. By working closely, both teams can align their strategies to create a seamless customer journey from acquisition to retention and expansion. For instance, a sales representative at a digital marketing agency might consult with the success team to better understand the services and support available to clients post-sale, ensuring that they accurately communicate these benefits to potential customers during the sales process.

C. Continuously Refine and Improve Communication Between Teams

Open and effective communication between sales and success teams is essential for maximising the potential of both departments. Sales professionals should prioritise keeping their colleagues in the success team informed of new customer acquisitions, potential upsell opportunities and any challenges that may impact the customer experience. By fostering a culture of transparent communication, both teams can work more efficiently and effectively to achieve their common goals. An example of this can be seen in a sales team that regularly shares prospect insights and feedback with the success team, allowing them to tailor their onboarding and support efforts better.

D. Learn From Successful Customers To Adapt and Improve Sales Strategies

Sales professionals should take the time to learn from their successful customers, using this knowledge to refine and improve their sales strategies. By understanding the factors contributing to customer success, sales professionals can better target prospects and tailor their sales pitches to address their potential customers’ specific needs and pain points. For example, a salesperson in the automotive industry might notice that their most successful customers value a particular safety feature; they can then emphasise this feature when pitching to new prospects, increasing the likelihood of closing deals and driving customer satisfaction.

By following these actionable steps, sales professionals can position themselves for career success while contributing to the growth and prosperity of the businesses they represent. Ultimately, hunting and farming customers are all about understanding the needs of potential and existing customers, collaborating effectively across teams, and continuously adapting strategies to drive sales and customer success in a competitive market.

VII. Conclusion

The Importance of Understanding the Difference Between Hunting and Farming Customers

In conclusion, sales professionals and businesses must recognise and appreciate the distinctions between hunting and farming customers. Hunting customers involves identifying potential clients, establishing relationships, and closing deals, whereas farming customers focus on retaining existing clients and expanding their accounts. A clear understanding of these differences enables teams to allocate resources and efforts appropriately, leading to more effective sales strategies and improved customer experiences.

For example, a start-up offering a project management tool would benefit from a sales team dedicated to hunting new clients, focusing on reaching out to prospects and demonstrating the value of their product. Simultaneously, a success team would work to support existing customers, ensuring they make the most of the tool’s features and providing assistance whenever necessary.

The Benefits of Collaboration and Teamwork in Driving Sustainable Growth

A key takeaway from this blog post is the importance of collaboration and teamwork between sales and success teams. These teams can create a more seamless customer journey by working together, leading to higher satisfaction rates and more sustainable business growth. For instance, a company selling cybersecurity solutions can enjoy increased success by fostering close cooperation between their sales and success teams, ensuring that potential customers receive accurate information about the services offered and that existing customers continue to feel supported and valued.

Apply the Lessons Learned in Their Own Sales Careers

Finally, sales professionals are encouraged to apply the lessons and insights in this blog post to their careers. By understanding the nuances of hunting and farming customers, promoting collaboration and teamwork between sales and success teams, and continuously learning from successful clients, professionals can excel in their roles and make meaningful contributions to their businesses. Hunting and farming customers are essential for driving sales, fostering customer success, and achieving sustainable growth in a competitive market.

VIII. Personas – Hunter, Farmer, and Trapper

Understanding the various sales personas – hunter, farmer, and trapper – is essential in tailoring your approach to maximising sales and success in a competitive market. Each persona brings a unique skill set, which can be highly beneficial depending on the nature of your business and target audience.

The trapper sales persona is a hybrid of the hunter and farmer, keenly understanding their target audience and buyer personas. Trappers utilise inbound marketing to communicate the value of their offerings to prospects on platforms they’re already engaged with, such as LinkedIn for B2B professionals. They are adept at generating social proof, like testimonials and case studies, and inspiring clients to do business with them. Trappers are focused on closing deals and are an excellent addition to a sales team that requires versatility.

It’s important to note that it’s rare for someone to excel in all three personas. Most individuals will have a dominant persona, though they may possess skills from the other personas to varying degrees. For example, a person who is a great trapper and a decent farmer may only be an average hunter. The ideal blend of these three personas will depend on the industry, business model, and personal style.

Over time, sales professionals can develop and refine their skills in different personas. However, this requires dedication, practice, and a keen understanding of the business and its target audience. By identifying and leveraging the strengths of each persona, sales teams can create a well-rounded strategy that effectively combines hunting, farming, and trapping to achieve sustainable growth and success in a competitive market.

Example of a SaaS company operating in the HR industry:

PersonaSettingMarketing StrategySales CyclePositive OutcomesNegative Outcomes
HunterSMBs with high employee turnoverOutbound prospecting, attending industry events, social media adsShort, fast-paced, focused on closing deals quicklyQuick revenue growth, new customer acquisitionLimited customer retention, difficulty in building long-term relationships
FarmerLarge enterprises with complex HR needsAccount-based marketing, personalised communication, upselling existing customersLonger, relationship-focused, nurturing existing customersHigh customer retention, loyalty and long-term revenue growthSlow revenue growth, limited new customer acquisition
TrapperMid-sized businesses with moderate HR needsInbound marketing, content marketing, customer referralsHybrid approach, focused on building relationships and closing dealsBalanced growth, strong customer relationships, effective use of social proofModerate customer acquisition, limited scalability

IV. Case Studies: Real-life Examples of Hunting and Farming Customers

For this HR SaaS company, adopting a hybrid approach that combines aspects of all three personas may be the most effective strategy. By identifying different customer segments and adapting marketing and sales tactics accordingly, they can maximise revenue growth, new customer acquisition and retention.
For example, they could use outbound prospecting to target SMBs with high employee turnover and focus on quick deal closures to boost revenue.
They could then use personalised communication and upselling to retain and grow their enterprise accounts. Finally, they could use inbound marketing and customer referrals to attract mid-sized businesses and build strong relationships with them over time.
The positive outcomes of this hybrid approach include balanced revenue growth, effective use of social proof, strong customer relationships, and maximised customer acquisition and retention. However, potential negative outcomes include a higher acquisition cost and difficulty scaling operations across different customer segments.

A. Case Study 1: Sales Team Success

In this example, a sales representative at a software company selling project management tools identified a prospect experiencing difficulties managing multiple projects and teams. The sales rep offered a tailored solution, showcasing how their software could significantly increase productivity and organisation. By establishing a strong relationship with the prospect and addressing their concerns, the sales rep successfully closed the deal, resulting in a satisfied customer and increased revenue for the company.

B. Case Study 2: Success Team Success

A success representative at a telecommunications company worked closely with an existing customer planning to scale their operations. The success rep implemented additional features and phone lines to accommodate the customer’s expansion to support the growing business. The success rep also provided training and guidance to ensure a seamless transition to the advanced plan, ultimately leading to a satisfied customer and increased revenue for the company.

C. Case Study 3: Sales Team Challenges

In this scenario, a sales representative at a marketing automation company faced obstacles beyond their control when attempting to close a deal. The prospect’s point of contact changed midway through the sales process, causing delays and confusion. Despite these challenges, the sales rep persevered and adapted to the unforeseen changes, eventually closing the deal and demonstrating the importance of persistence in sales.

D. Case Study 4: Success Team Challenges

A success representative at a cloud storage company faced difficulties when managing a complex expansion project for an existing customer. The project had tight time constraints, and miscommunication between the success rep and the customer resulted in the project’s failure. This case highlights the importance of setting realistic expectations and maintaining clear communication between success teams and customers to ensure success in customer retention and account expansion.